Storify will leave a hole in the internet but there's a much bigger issue in play

Storify will leave a hole in the internet but there's a much bigger issue in play

Storify is closing as a free service. It has implications for how individuals and organisations tell stories, and strikes at the cultural history of the internet.

Storify, a social media curation service, announced in December that it would close as a free service, and that content created on the platform would be deleted in May 2018.

The service launched in 2009 and enables you to pull together content from around the social web. I’ve generally used it as a scrapbook to gather conversation from events, record crowdsource discussions, archive projects, and keep a record of Twitter chats.

The closure of the free Storify service has been a long time coming. The service was acquired by Livefrye in 2013.

Livefrye was subsequently acquired by Adobe in May last year. Both services have been incorporated in the Adobe user generated content platform and are available on a commercial basis as part of a Livefrye licence.

Storify’s value was in enabling content to be curated and then reshared around the internet. It will leave a hole in the web.

If you’ve content on the platform, you need to figure out how you’re going to export and archive it.

If you’ve links or embedded Storify content on your website, you’re going to need a plan to manage the links before the platform closes.

Archiving your Storify content and alternative solutions

Existing Storify customers wanting to keep their content can export it, post-by-post. Content can be saved in a variety of formats including HTML, XML and JSON. It’s a tedious process but critical if you want to save your content and host it elsewhere.

Twitter has a service that allows you to string together content in a so-called Twitter Moment. Unlike Storify it’s limited to tweets.

If you want more than Twitter, you can embed almost any blogging or web content platform using embedded HTML codes.

Storify’s acquisition and closure as a free service is a signal that the market for social media services and tools is maturing.

There are lots of other examples of social media services that have closed down after being acquired or failing to find a sustainable business model.

I started writing down a list from the last decade, and quickly reached more than a dozen. How many of these do you recognise? You’ll almost certainly have examples of your own that I’ve missed.


2017
Yik Yak

2016
Friends Reunited
Friendster
Meerkat

2014
Heello
Orkut

2013
Posterous

2012
iTunes Ping
Jaiku
Qaiku

2011
Google Buzz
Windows Live Spaces

2007
FriendFeed

Table: social media platforms and services that have closed


Host your own content

There’s an important lesson for professional communicators in Storify’s closure. If you use free or commercial social media services as part of your communications makes sure that you regularly audit your channels, and have a plan in case the terms of service change.

The use of third party platforms is a necessity of modern personal and organisational communication. But what would you do if Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr or Twitter changed their business model or closed down?

In my day job at Ketchum we stress the importance of owned channels at the heart of an organisation’s communication. Build your own website, blog, image platform and newsroom. Avoid using rented services for these critical functions and if you do, ensure that you have the ability to export your content and host it elsewhere.

Where possible limit the use of third party services to amplify and share your content. You can follow your community to the new channels that they discover but you need to be able to take your content with you.

History is being written by a handful of successful tech companies

There’s an important postscript to this story. It relates to our cultural history. It’s an issue that I’ve spotted a few people in my network mulling out loud on Twitter.

History used to be written down in books, newspapers, and letters, and archived in libraries. I used Storify to keep a record of conversations and tell the stories of events and projects. This content will all be deleted in May 2018. 

We live in an era of disposable media. The history of the internet, and our cultural history as a society, is being written by a handful of successful technology companies. That’s got to be a concern.

Preparing for when Storify closes

Manage Storify links

Review your owned apps and websites for Storify.com links. A domain search query will indicate the scale of your issue. Replace yoursite.com with the name of your own website in the search query below. 

link:storify.com site:yoursite.com

Google will return a list of the pages that contain Storify links. You will have to remove these links before May 2018 otherwise you will face a SEO issue with link rot.

Archive Storify content

If you’re an existing Storify customer determine what you’re going to do with your existing content on the platform. If you plan to archive and repost, start that process as soon as possible.

Platform resilience

Audit your internet platforms and services. If you use third party platforms ensure that you have a continuity plan for your content in the event that the service closes or the terms of service change. Plan to follow and engage stakeholders to new channels.

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